A two-day celebration of comics, films, sci-fi and fantasy is swooping into Columbia this weekend.
In its first year, Soda City Comic Con aims to appeal to the “little bit of nerdy geek in everybody,” co-founder Donald Brock said.
On Saturday, Oct. 3 and Sunday, Oct. 4, the Metropolitan Convention Center in the Vista will be overtaken by more than 40 retail vendors peddling everything from comics to toys to anime to collectibles. There also will be panels, exclusive TV show screenings and chances to meet comic book royalty.
Featured guests include former Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, comic book artist Frank Brunner, professional cosplayers Kristen Hughey and Brit Bliss, as well as several actors from the TV show “The Walking Dead.”
Although there are several smaller, one-day “cons,” or conventions, in Columbia that focus specifically on gaming or anime, Soda City Comic Con will be bigger and broader than its counterparts, Brock said.
“There’s not been one of this size or this depth that shows the breadth of pop culture,” he said.
That’s not to say that there aren’t enough “nerdy geeks” in town to go around.
“There’s a pretty seasoned crowd in Columbia,” said Chris Foss, owner of the comic book store Heroes and Dragons on Bush River Road. In addition to his brick-and-mortar store, Foss said he sells his comics at about 30 conventions per year. He’ll be a vendor at Soda City Comic Con this year, too.
“The industry is doing well here,” he said. “It pulls a lot of people in.”
Columbia needs a con that we can call our own.
Donald Brock, co-founder of Soda City Comic Con
A popular aspect of comic cons is the cosplay, where people dress up as their favorite character from a movie, book or video game.
“It’s addicting,” said Sarah El-Khabbaz, who lives in Columbia and has been cosplaying for the past three years. “I like to describe it as a big Halloween party. But people get very, very into it.”
Soda City Comic Con will have a cosplay contest for adults at Music Farm Columbia on Saturday and a contest for kids on Sunday.
El-Khabbaz sometimes dresses as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (complete with a wig, a wand and a British accent), or a Disney princess.
She and her friend Shelby Sessler (often dressed as Cinderella) run a company that provides princesses for princess-themed events and birthday parties. But they dust off their dresses for comic cons as well.
Comic cons are a “celebration of characters,” Sessler said – and not just obscure comic book characters.
Ashley Ogzewalla, a member of the Columbia Cosplayers group, said that at her first con, she went as a character from the video game “Assassin’s Creed” and only two people knew who she was dressed as.
“The next time I went as Ursula (from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”) and everyone loved it,” she said.
Characters don’t even have to be real. Cosplayer Kim Case makes up her own. Sometimes, she goes as Evangeline Sunday, a vampire hunter who wears a floor-length trenchcoat and totes a rifle that doubles as a crossbow.
Case, 48, says she makes her own characters partly out of necessity.
“I’m older, so I can’t do ‘Sailor Moon,’ ” she said, referring to the short-skirted Japanese manga character.
Instead, Case hunts vampires as Evangeline Sunday by night, and works in customer service by day.
“Half of the people I work with know I dress up,” she said, “and the other half have no idea.”
Who are the most popular characters?
San Diego is considered to have one of the nation’s top annual Comic-Con events. So which characters were big at the 2015 convention in July?
Check out the video, with this story.
If you go
WHAT: Soda City Comic Con
WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3-4
WHERE: Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St.
COST: $10 for one day, $15 for both days. Tickets available at the door.
DETAILS: For schedule of events and other information, visit sodacitycomiccon.com